Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

burning in Smithfield ? The Reformation produced such immediate and great benefits, that Protestantism was considered under the immediate eye of Heaven, and its own remaining dogmas and superstitions then, as it were, regenerated, constituted those resting-places and seeming sure points of reasoning. From that I have mentioned, Milton, whatever he may have thought in the sequel, appears to have been content with these by his writings. He did not think with the human heart as Wordsworth has done ; yet Milton, as a philosopher, had surely as great powers as Wordsworth. What is then to be inferred ? O! many things : it proves there is really a grand march of intellect; it proves that a mighty Providence subdues the mightiest minds to the service of the time being, whether it be in human knowledge or religion.

I have often pitied a tutor who has to hear “Nom. Musa” so often dinn’d into his ears : I hope you may not have the same pain in this scribbling-I may have read these things before, but I never had even a thus dim perception of them; and, moreover, I like to say my lesson to one who will endure my tediousness, for my own sake.

After all there is something real in the world—Moore's present to Hazlitt is real. I like that Moore, and am glad I saw him at the Theatre just before I left town. Tom has spit a leetle blood this afternoon, and that is rather a damper—but I know—the truth is, there is something real in the world. Your third Chamber of Life shall be a lucky and a gentle one, stored with the wine of Love and the bread of Friendship.

When you see George, if he should not have received a letter from me, tell him he will find one at home most likely. Tell Bailey I hope soon to see him. Remember me to all. The leaves have been out here for many a day. I have written to George for the first stanzas of my “ Isabel.” I shall have them soon, and will copy the whole out for

you.
Your affectionate friend,

JOHN KEATS.

HAMPSTEAD, 25 May, 1818. My Dear BAILEY,

I should have answered your letter on the moment, if I could have said Yes, to your invitation. What hinders me is insuperable: I will tell it at a little length. You know my brother George has been out of employ for some time. It has weighed very much upon him, and driven him to scheme and turn over things in his mind. The result has been his resolution to emigrate to the back settlements of America, become farmer, and work with his own hands, after purchasing fourteen hundred acres of the American Government. This, for many reasons, has met with my entire consent—and the chief one is this; he is of too independent and liberal a mind to get on in trade in this country, in which a generous man with a scanty resource must be ruined. I would sooner he should till the ground than bow to a customer. There is no choice with him: he could not bring himself to the latter. I could not consent to his going alone ;—no; but that objection is done away with : he will marry, before he sets sail, a young lady he has known for several years, of a nature liberal and high spirited enough to follow him to the banks of the Mississippi. He will set off in a month or six weeks, and you will see how I should wish to pass that time with him— And then I must set out on a journey of my own. Brown and I are going on a pedestrian tour through the north of England, and Scotland, as far as John o'Grot’s.

I have this morning such a lethargy that I cannot write. The reason of my delaying is oftentimes for this feeling, I wait for a proper temper. Now you ask for an immediate answer, I do not like to wait even till to-morrow. However, I am now so depressed that I have not an idea to put to paper; my hand feels like lead. And yet it is an unpleasant numbness; it does not take away the pain of existence. I don't know what to write.

[Monday.]—You see how I have delayed; and even now I have but a confused idea of what I should be about. My intellect must be in a degenerating state—it must be—for when I should be writing about—God knows what I am troubling you with moods of my own mind, or rather body, for mind there is

I am in that temper that if I were under water I would

none.

nonsense.

scarcely kick to come up to the top. I know very well 'tis all

In short time I hope I shall be in a temper to feel sensibly your mention of my book. In vain have I waited till Monday to have any interest in that, or any thing else. I feel no spur at my brother's going to America, and am almost stony-hearted about his wedding. All this will blow over. All I am sorry for is having to write to you in such a time—but I cannot force my letters in a hotbed. I could not feel comfortable in making sentences for you. I am your debtor ; I must ever remain so; nor do I wish to be clear of my rational debt : there is a comfort in throwing oneself on the charity of one's friends—'tis like the albatross sleeping on its wings. I will be to you wine in the cellar, and the more modestly, or rather, indolently, I retire into the backward bin, the more Falerne will I be at the drinking. There is one thing I must mention : my brother talks of sailing in a fortnight; if so, I will most probably be with you a week before I set out for Scotland. The middle of your first page should be sufficient to rouse me. What I said is true, and I have dreamt of your mention of it, and my not answering it has weighed on me since. If I come, I will bring your letter, and hear more fully your sentiments on one or two points. I will call about the Lectures at Taylor's, and at Little Britain, to-morrow. Yesterday I dined with Hazlitt, Barnes and Wilkie, at Haydon's. The topic was the Duke of Wellingtonvery amusingly pro-and-con'd. Reynolds has been getting much better; and Rice may begin to crow, for he got a little so-so at a party of his, and was none the worse for it the next morning. I hope I shall soon see you, for we must have many new thoughts and feelings to analyze, and to discover whether a little more knowledge has not made us more ignorant.

Yours affectionately,

JOHN KEATS.

LONDON, June 10, 1818. MY DEAR BAILEY,

I have been very much gratified and very much hurt by your letters in the Oxford Paper; because, independent of that unlawful and mortal feeling of pleasure at praise there is a glory

in enthusiasm ; and because the world is malignant enough to chuckle at the most honorable simplicity. Yes, on my soul, my dear Bailey, you are too simple for the world, and that idea makes me sick of it. How is it that, by extreme opposites, we have, as it were, got discontented nerves? You have all your life (I think so) believed every body. I have suspected every body. And, although you have been so deceived, you make a simple appeal. The world has something else to do, and I am glad of it. Were it in my choice, I would reject a Petrarchal coronation-on account of my dying day, and because women have cancers. I should not, by rights, speak in this tone to you, for it is an incendiary spirit that would do so. Yet I am not old enough or magnanimous enough to annihilate self—and it would, perhaps, be paying you an ill compliment. I was in hopes, some little time back, to be able to relieve your dullness by my spirits—to point out things in the world worth your enjoyment—and now I am never alone without rejoicing that there is such a thing as deathwithout placing my ultimate in the glory of dying for a great human purpose. Perhaps if my affairs were in a different state I should not have written the above-you shall judge: I have two brothers; one is driven, by the “ burden of society," to America ; the other, with an exquisite love of life, is in a lingering state. My love for my brothers, from the early loss of our parents, and even from earlier misfortunes, has grown into an affection,“ passing the love of women.” I have been ill-tempered with them, I have vexed them,-but the thought of them has always stifled the impression that any woman might otherwise have made upon me. I have a sister too; and may not follow them either to America or to the grave. Life must be undergone; and I certainly derive some consolation from the thought of writing one or two more poems before it ceases.

I have heard some hints of your retiring to Scotland. I should like to know your feeling on it: it seems rather remote. Perhaps Gleig will have a duty near you. I am not certain whether I shall be able to go any journey, on account of my brother Tom and a little indisposition of my own. If I do not, you shall see me soon, if not on my return, or I'll quarter myself on you next winter. I had known my sister-in-law some time before she was

[ocr errors]

my sister, and was very fond of her. I like her better and better. She is the most disinterested woman I ever knew—that is to say, she goes beyond degrees in it. To see an entirely disinterested girl quite happy is the most pleasant and extraordinary thing in the world. It depends upon a thousand circumstances. On my word it is extraordinary. Women must want imagination, and they may thank God for it; and so may we, that a delicate being can feel happy without any sense of crime. It puzzles me, and I have no sort of logic to comfort me: I shall think it over.

I am not at home, and your letter being there I cannot look it over to answer any particular-only, I must say I feel that

passage

of Dante. If I take any book with me it shall be those minute volumes of Carey, for they will go into the aptest corner.

Reynolds is getting, I may say, robust. His illness has been of service to him. Like every one just recovered, he is high-spirited. I hear also good accounts of Rice. With respect to domestic literature, the “ Edinburgh Magazine,” in another blow-up against Hunt, calls me “the amiable Mister Keats,” and I have more than a laurel from the “Quarterly Reviewers," for they have smothered me in “ Foliage.” I want to read you my of Basil.” If you go to Scotland, I should much like to read it there to you, among the snows of next winter. My brother's remembrance to you.

Your affectionate friend,

JOHN KEATS.

« Pot

Foliage” was a volume of poems chiefly classical, just pub. lished by Mr. Leigh Hunt. It contained the following sonnets to Keats. The “ Edinburgh Magazine” was Blackwood's, and had begun the series of articles on the “Cockney School," to which further allusion will be made.

SONNET TO JOHN KEATS.

'Tis well you think me truly one of those
Whose sense discerns the loveliness of things ;
For surely as I feel the bird that sings

« НазадПродовжити »